The good, the bad and the ugly
In the car, over lunch, I’m assailed by the nasal protests of Sean Hannity. He’s extremely frustrated by the idea that anyone would disregard claims made by the “Swift Boat Veterans for Truth.” Hannity is a gab artist he doesn’t call John Kerry a liar, he simply accuses John Kerry of calling other men liars men who, “Served their country proudly and with courage,” as Hannity smugly points out.By midafternoon I was assailed again, this time by a series of complaints from George Soros or, at least, an organization he supports called MoveOn.org. MoveOn reports that, on Sept. 9, Dick Cheney told an audience in Cincinnati that Iraq, despite all evidence to the contrary, actually HAD been harboring Al-Qaeda terrorists all along (that’s Sept. 9 of this year, by the way, not 2002).Could Cheney be lying to us? After all, he was the very first Bush Administration official who announced to the world that Iraq had WMDs could he be wrong again?Of course he could.But minutes later I learned about George Soros, and guess what? It turns out he’s not to be trusted either. The Traditional Values Coalition was kind enough to inform me that Soros is an atheist who is trying to sell heroin to three-year-old boys or something like that.So maybe Soros is the liar?Or is it Cheney?Or Hannity?Or Bush?Or Kerry?Or is it, heaven forbid ALL OF THEM?If television advertisements and radio talk shows are to be believed, then everybody in politics is a liar. And if they’re not a liar, they’re a person who professionally calls other people liars. And if the people we get our information from are liars, how are we supposed to tell who’s lying and who’s not?The mudslinging hit an all-time low in Colorado when an “independent” group attacked Ken Salazar, essentially blaming him for the weak punishments doled out in the Summitville Mine disaster and accusing him of being soft on polluters.The advertisement fails to mention that Salazar’s opponent, Pete Coors, owns a company that dumped 300,000 gallons of beer and wastewater into Clear Creek in 2000, killing more than 50,000 fish. Colorado state law allows a fine of up to $35 per fish for such incidents, which means that Coors could have been fined about $1.7 million.But they were only fined $500,000. And this fine came despite the fact that Coors is a multiple offender. A similar incident in 1991 killed roughly 13,000 fish. Coors was fined $25,000 for that one (much better for Coors than the potential $455,000).None of this information, of course, is to be found in the advertisement but I did find out that Coors, ironically, was once the president of the conservation group Ducks Unlimited. So here’s my suggested Coors campaign slogan: If it looks like a duck, walks like a duck, and quacks like a duck, drown it in beer.Seriously, how are we to tell a duck from a dunce? How do we know who our candidates really are?It seems that truth and honesty become more and more rare the bigger the race gets. Presidential races are a matrix of pointed fingers; U.S. Senate politicians are masters of the slight of hand; U.S. House campaign teams know how to blur lines.But here’s the good news: when the stakes are lower and campaign dollars smaller, issues get a lot clearer.When it comes to these smaller races I have simple advice: If you really want to know what your state, district, county, or local official thinks, then turn off your TV, turn down the radio, and pick up the phone.Notice that I didn’t tell you to put down your newspaper. (Newspapers, I believe, are still the best way to get basic information on your candidates)Still, nothing beats a one-on-one conversation with a political candidate. Take the state race, for example. If there’s a specific question you have for one of those two, there’s no reason you can’t just call them up.In fact, that’s the kind of thing they invite. They’re our “representatives,” remember?Jack Taylor and Jay Fetcher are normal, easy-going, approachable people they just happen to be active in politics. They’ve got phones, they’ve got emails, and right now they’re busy campaigning, which means they’re trying as hard as they can to get out there and connect with the people. If you happen to connect with them first, well, that’s just as good with them.And they’ll be a lot easier to get a hold of than you might think. Much easier than, say, your cell phone company or internet service provider.Of course, you may want to catch up on who they are and what they stand for by perusing your local newspapers. And you may want to hear them speak at one of their local rallies first. But remember this government is for the people: you have the right to talk to your local public officials, so why not use it?So here’s the critical info: For challenger Jay Fetcher call (970) 879-3713 or email email@example.com. For incumbent Jack Taylor call (303) 866-5292, or (970) 879-1880 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. See their websites at jayfetcher.com or senatorjacktaylor.com.It’s a start. VTTo contact Tom Boyd call (970) 390-1585 or email email@example.com.